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Discipline / Investigations

Document all disciplinary actions, including why and when you decided to act


Some employees facing discipline believe that if they file a discrimination complaint, they can escape trouble. If disciplined, they’ll cry “retaliation!” Smart employers counter this subtle form of blackmail by clearly documenting and time-stamping all decisions and the process that led up to those decisions.

Consider all options: When co-worker harasses, termination isn’t the only way to avoid liability


The key to handling any kind of harassment case involving co-workers is to immediately investigate the allegations and follow up with solutions designed to stop the mis­behavior. But those solutions don’t always have to include terminating the har­assing co-worker. Suspensions, training and other remedial actions may be enough …

Supreme Court backs employee following ‘cat’s paw’ boss bias

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that an employer may be held liable for employment discrimination under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), based on the discriminatory animus of an employee who influenced, but did not make, an ultimate employment decision.

Nice work if you can get it: 12 years of full-time time off

Heads are rolling in Norfolk, Va., following the discovery that a government worker who was suspended 12 years ago and hasn’t done a day of work since then has been drawing a paycheck the whole time. And get this: Now that she’s been officially fired, she’s suing.

To catch a thief, first document suspicions


Employee theft is a big problem for some employers. Even so, don’t make the mistake of accusing someone unless you have solid evidence he is the culprit. Instead, document your suspicions and consider whether to call police or conduct your own investigation. Then, try to catch the thief in the act.

How to conduct effective and legal workplace investigations

Eventually, every employer will have to investigate some sort of workplace concern. Whether because of a dispute between co-workers or a need to address unethical or unlawful behavior, workplace investigations are an important and delicate exercise. The following tips will help investigations produce useful results.

Lesson from Walmart: How to cut risk when a co-worker harasses


Here’s some good news for employers that take sexual harassment complaints seriously. In Sutherland v. Wal-Mart, the 7th Circuit emphasized that an employer’s prompt response to an employee’s complaint of sexual harassment may protect it from liability.  

Checklist: A practical guide to investigating workplace harassment

The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in Faragher v. City of Boca Raton and Ellerth v. Burlington Industries were a wake-up call for employers to take affirmative steps to prevent, detect and remedy unlawful workplace harassment. HR’s key tool for doing so: the internal investigation. When harassment rears its ugly head, here’s how to conduct your investigation.

When disciplining, rely on employee’s initial confession


When you confront an employee about a mistake or rule violation, she’ll probably offer some sort of quick explanation. She won’t have had time to come up with a million excuses. If her immediate response amounts to a confession she broke a rule, it’s entirely reasonable to act on that.

Managing employees in remote locations? Insist they follow the rules, just like everyone else


As more and more employees work from locations away from the main office, employers are finding it challenging to manage their workforces. In some cases, that may be so difficult that it doesn’t seem worth having remote workers, especially when an employee tries to take advantage of the distance and begins to ignore the rules. Don’t let that happen.